Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tom, Field, Willey and Avalon

After carefully watching the weather over the course of the week I decided to postpone my hike from Saturday to Sunday. It's a good thing I did as Saturday was hot and humid with afternoon rain and thunderstorms. Today was supposed to be a much better day. My plan was to hike Mounts Tom (4,051'), Field (4,340') and Willey (4,285'), all on the 4,000 footer list. I also planned on visiting the summit of Mount Avalon (3,442').

The route for today would start on the Avalon Trail up the A-Z Trail to the Mount Tom Spur trail to Mount Tom, back down to the A-Z Trail and onto the Willey Range trail across Mount Field continuing on to Mount Willey. My return hike would take me back over Mount Field down the Avalon Trail with a short side trip to Mount Avalon then continuing the descent back to the trailhead for a total of ten miles.

It was a cloudy start to the day as I drove to the trailhead. When I arrived at the Crawford Depot there was still a heavy cloud cover. The air was cool but slightly humid. I geared up and commenced my hike on the Avalon Trail. The trail was wet from yesterday's rain. There was no problem crossing the Crawford Brook as well as the next couple of water crossings.

I got to the A-Z Trail junction and kept on going. I was beginning to see that I would be climbing up into the clouds if it did not start clearing. There was a cool breeze blowing and it felt good. At the next trail junction I turned right onto the Mount Tom Spur and was soon on the summit. The few views that are available were completely clouded in. I got a summit pic and started my descent. On the way down I caught a fleeting glimpse of a view but seconds later it was gone.

Back down at the trail junction I walked the 80 yards to the Willey Range Trail and started the easy climb to Mount Field. It was along here that the sun started to break through and the temp was warming up nicely. As I came up onto the summit he views were opening up nicely. There were a couple of hikers I was talking with that had been caught in the drenching rain yesterday and were enjoying this beautiful weather today. A few more pics and I continued on to Mount Willey.

A steep drop down off the summit and I was into the col. It was along this section of trail I crossed paths with fellow hikers Jesse and his friend Mike. I first met Jesse while hiking a southern Presidential traverse last month. Jesse and a friend were doing the full Presidential traverse going north. A mere coincidence put us on the same path today going in different directions. If you do a lot of hiking there's a good chance you're going to run into some of the same hikers more than once, it's happened to me on several occasions.

Views were opening up as I began my ascent from the col to Mount Willey. The weather was perfect with lots of warm sunshine tempered with cool mountain breezes. I reached the summit and a fellow hiker took a pic for me standing at the cairn. I dropped down to the outlook and was rewarded with fantastic views. There was a cloud bank moving below the summit of Mount Washington that provided a spectacular sight. I got my customary panoramic video and some still shots. After a short break I started my return trip to the trailhead.

It was back down into the col and up to Mount Field. Shortly after starting my descent I turned onto the Avalon Trail. After a one mile steep drop down this trail I took the 100 yard side trail that climbed steeply to the summit of Mount Avalon. There were more great views to be enjoyed from here. I stayed long enough to capture some shots then continued the steep downward hike.

Back down off the steep section of the trail I was able to pick up the pace. I took the side trail to Pearl and Beecher Cascades and was glad that I did. The recent rain had a good water flow coming down Crawford Brook and the cascades looked great! I was soon back at the tralhead.

When I arrived at Crawford Depot it was a different sight than earlier this morning, there was now blue sky and puffy clouds above. Even with the earlier clouds this turned out to be a perfect day for hiking. I have hiked these summits before but this was the first time that I have done all of them in one hike. I am now at #38 of hiking my second round of 4,000 footers!

Enjoy the pics!

Sun rising over a cloudy Presidential Range and Mount Washington Hotel

Approaching Crawford Notch with the sun trying to break through the cloud cover

A cloudy Crawford Notch

Clouds hang tough at the start of today's hike

Entering the woods on the Avalon Trail

Looking back at the Crawford Depot

First water crossing at Crawford Brook

Second water crossing

A-Z Trail junction

Mossy brook

On the summit of Mount Tom

Misty summit

A brief view from Mount Tom

Clouds quickly move back in

Onward to the Willey Range Trail

On the Willey Range Trail with the sun shining through the trees

Wood sorrel


Bog bridges on the Willey Range Trail

Only 100 yards to the summit of Mount Field

Clouds on the move

Looking back on the Willey Range Trail

Mount Washington Hotel far below

Summit of Mount Washington from Mount Field

Summit cairn on Mount Field

An area of mass blowdowns

Mount Willey up ahead

Fellow hikers Jesse and his friend Mike

Signal Ridge to Mount Carrigain from the Willey Range Trail

A view to the west

Summit cairn on Mount Willey

A view south through Crawford Notch

View from the Mount Willey viewpoint

Standing on the Willey viewpoint

Cloud bank below the Mount Washington cone

Going back up a steep section of the Willey Range trail

Clouds clearing

A view of Mount Tom

Descending on the Avalon Trail

Twisted trees

Slippery trail ledge and mud below

Crooked tree

Reindeer lichen

Ascending Mount Avalon

A short steep climb

Mount Willey

Mount Field

Mount Tom


A view of the Presidential Range and Saco Lake below

A view south from Mount Avalon

A view north from Mount Avalon

Beecher Cascade

Gorge from Beecher Cascade

Pearl Cascade

Lone mushroom

Large mushroom

One last cascade near the end of the hike

Back down at the trailhead

Crawford Depot under a sunny sky

A view of the Presidential summits on the drive home

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